Organizers gearing up for Juneteenth community cookout in Salisbury

SALISBURY, Md. – Salisbury is getting ready to celebrate Juneteenth with a community cookout. Eastern Shore Juneteenth, the Wicomico Truth and Reconciliation Initiative, Action Made Clothing, and Faith Over Fear Economic Development Inc. are all pitching in. “We weren’t expecting it to be a big event. We were just thinking of something small that we could have that celebrates Juneteenth and that people could come out to. We had so many businesses and organizations reach out to us wanting to sponsor, or wanting to donate in some way,” said Eastern Shore Juneteenth Co-Found Makya Purnell.

Saturday, Salisbury City Park will serve as the venue for music, games, activities, and resources for the community. Purnell says free food will be served up, and it’s not just going to be hotdogs and hamburgers. They’re going to be cooking up all the best parts of soul food, including greens, mac and cheese, and other favorites. Purnell says they’re also gearing some of the games toward Black culture, like setting up tables where people can play spades or dominos. “I would say we put this together in a month. We’ve had like a month to roll out our marketing and stuff like that. We had a really good committee,” said Purnell.

Delicious food and fun activities aside, Purnell says it’s really all about bringing the community together. She says she wants people to know that Juneteenth isn’t just for the Black community, but for everyone. “I think it’s important for us to not necessarily make Juneteenth a Black holiday. I know that’s sometimes how it is framed. I think it would be better for us if we thought about it as an American holiday that we celebrate that centers Black people. So, it’s not just a day for only Black people to celebrate,” said Purnell. “If we’re going to be a community that prides itself on diversity and inclusion, I think it’s important to celebrate other cultures, even if you aren’t part of it.”

Organizers had to downsize their Juneteenth celebration last year because of COVID-19. “At first we were kind of hesitant to do anything face to face. It was originally going to be a caravan. The caravan did not happen in the way that we planned, at least last year, because the staging location was the Civic Center. As everyone knows, right now the Civic Center is the location for the vaccine,” said Purnell.

Purnell says now, organizers are looking forward to Saturday’s cookout. She says even though they’re pretty much ready to go, organizers could always use more hands on deck. If you’d like to volunteer at the cookout, you can reach out to the Eastern Shore Juneteenth Facebook page.

Categories: Local News, Maryland